A keypad is a component that houses the buttons to be used in an electronic device. It’s a standard component, as you’ll often find it in calculators, remotes, digital locks, and the likes.
If you’ve tweaked with more than one of these devices, you might recall that keypads can come in different types. For example, telephones use push-button keypads, while television remotes have the softer and cushiony ones, which is called a silicone rubber keypad. On the surface, the keypad type may not seem as big of a deal compared to other components, but it’s worth noting that each keypad type varies in durability, resistance, cost, and other elements.
Hence, it’s advisable to take your time choosing the type of keypad for your engineering project. But if you’re interested in silicone rubber keypads, here are some notes to aid you with your decision.
1. Dustproof And Waterproof
As the name suggests, silicone rubber keypads consist mainly of silicone rubber. You’ll find that most of the benefits listed in this article are primarily due to this material’s inherent properties.
For starters, silicone rubber is naturally dustproof and waterproof. Therefore, if you want to make sure the electronic device you make lasts long, it’s worth considering silicone rubber keypads.
Take note that being dustproof and waterproof means an object is entirely impervious to dust and water. It’s different from water resistance as it only makes the keypad durable to the potential damage that water can cause for a limited amount of time.
2. Highly Resistant And Durable
If you want to prioritize durability over anything else for your engineering project, the natural resistance of silicone rubber is quite tempting. Here’s a closer look at its resistance properties:
- Abrasion Resistance: It refers to how much an object can resist damage resulting from scratches or friction against another surface. Abrasion might not be on the top of your worry list, but having resistance to it is still a nice thing to have for a device component.
- Moisture Resistance: Apart from water, silicone rubber keypads also show resistance against other types of liquid and moisture. This property is extremely valuable as only a few materials can repel moisture. Being moisture resistant also means it can guard against humidity, which can prove helpful since humidity can be destructive at high levels.
- Heat And Cold Resistance: As the name implies, silicone rubber keypads are resistant to extremely low and high temperatures. This property is an essential aspect of engineering projects, especially since you’ll often expose the keypad to extreme temperatures during the engineering process.
On top of these three properties, silicone rubber is also inherently durable and has an excellent overall mechanical property. Just so you’re aware, mechanical properties refer to how an object handles force. It may refer to the object’s elasticity, hardness, tensile strength, and elongation. All these properties can help create electronic devices that require high durability.
While durability is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of a keypad or any device component for that matter, comfortability is perhaps the key selling point of a keypad.
Comfortability refers to how soft and smooth the keypad is, or pretty much how nice it feels to the touch. Since silicone rubber keypads are typically cushiony, their comfortability is off the charts—further explaining why manufacturers and engineers prefer it a lot.
Silicone rubber keypads tend to be cheaper than other types, such as plastic keypads. Of course, if you’re planning on creating a single device, a remote control for a driverless car, for example, its cost might not be that big of a deal. However, manufacturers and engineers planning to purchase these keypads in bulk will benefit significantly from the silicone keypad’s cost-effectiveness.
5. Compatible With Various Types Of Backlighting
Most keypads have backlighting—albeit subtle—making it easy for users to see the keys they pressed. While it’s normal to assume that adding backlighting to the keypad is simple, it’s actually quite tricky. For one, only a few types of keypads are compatible with backlighting. Thankfully, silicone rubber keypads are one of them.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that backlighting may come as LED, circuits, metal domes, or LGL. Regardless, silicone rubber keypads should be able to work with these components as they’re often transparent or translucent. This type of keypad can allow all kinds of lighting to pass through it.
As stated earlier, silicone rubber has an excellent overall mechanical property. These include elasticity and malleability. Being elastic and malleable means you can easily shape the material to any form you want. Hence, it’s perfect if you have a specific requirement for the keypad. For example, if you’re going to fit it in a miniature remote, it should be possible to compress the keypad in relative size.
7. Supports Numerous Options
Another reason engineers and manufacturers prefer silicone rubber keypads is that they can support numerous functions and features. For example, if you fancy a keypad with laser-etched graphics or a high-gloss finish, the keypad should be able to take it. However, take note that silicone rubber doesn’t have such property inherently. This would mean that some manufacturers or suppliers may not have keypads with such characteristics.
8. Tactile Feedback
Tactile feedback refers to the sensation that you feel when pressing a button. It may be as simple as audible pop or the key pushing your finger back. It’s what makes you extra sure that you’ve pressed the button.
A keypad capable of producing that sensation is highly desirable as it helps you determine if your input was registered properly without stealing a glance at the output device. As you may have guessed, silicone rubber keypads can also produce this sensation, despite their softness and smoothness.
Silicone rubber keypads are perhaps the most popular choice of engineers when creating an electronic device requiring the component. If you’ve been paying attention to this article, you should know precisely why.
However, note that they’re not always the best option in every circumstance. There may be cases where a plastic type would be better. In short, don’t blindly choose silicone rubber keypads. Make sure you also consider the alternatives.